Fake E-Mail Warns Reed Business Subscribers to 'Unsubscribe'

  |  July 5, 2005   |  Comments

An e-mail sent to Broadcasting & Cable e-newsletter subscribers telling them to unsubscribe was fraudulent, but not a security breach, says the magazine.

Paid subscribers to Broadcasting & Cable's email newsletter received an email Thursday saying their personal information could be "exposed to criminal use" unless they unsubscribed. The message contained a one-click unsubscribe link to B&C's Web site which contained subscribers' unique IDs.

Parent company Reed Business Information reacted almost immediately with a follow-up email and site posting assuring subscribers their personal information is not at risk and no security breach had occurred.

It appears the mailing, sent through DoubleClick's DARTmail, the company's email service provider, was initiated by a person with access to B&C's account. Reed maintains it has not suffered a security breach, though it has launched a criminal investigation.

"Broadcasting & Cable intends to pursue appropriate criminal charges and whatever additional legal remedies may be available against the perpetrator of this malicious act," wrote Joe Slepski, privacy manager at Reed Business, in an email to ClickZ News, "We believe that someone, possibly a former employee, may have made unauthorized access into an outside service that Broadcasting & Cable uses for subscriber email communications."

Slepski told ClickZ News the company won't honor unsubscribe requests in the short term unless confirmed by a second request.

"This message was completely untrue and unauthorized and was not sent on behalf of Broadcasting & Cable," Salina Le Bris, vice president of corporate communications at Reed Business Information, told ClickZ News. "This event will not affect the long- or short-term value of the email list." B&C rents its 4,900 name list to advertisers through a third-party firm.

Slepski says Reed will look into security issues once they have evaluated the situation. "Once we complete our investigation, we will analyze how this incident was able to occur and any changes we might need to make in any of our internal procedures to make sure that incidents like this don't happen again."

Subscriber pay $15.95 per month to access Broadcasting & Cable's site and newsletters, or $189.00 annually with a subscription to the print magazine.

In what was possibly a related event, all but the news pages on Broadcasting & Cable's Web site were blank for over 24-hours. The company was not able address questions regarding the site. Most, but not all, the pages have been restored, although links to subscription pages did not work at press time.

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Enid Burns

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